2006 Hallmark Christmas
Fire Truck Ornament
By Richard Krom

This year’s Hallmark Christmas Fire Truck ornament is a replica of a 1961 GMC front mount pumper, also lovingly referred to as “bumper pumpers”. The description on the back of the package tells that it could deliver up to 500 GPM and says it’s a one ton chassis. They further say it could most likely be found serving “small-town America. The first impression I got when I took it out of the package was “rural America”.

Guys, this is a great little truck. It is die cast construction with plastic parts, much the same as your favorite Corgi or Code 3 piece. It also features plastic wheels that are very detailed, with rubber tires. The tires have a nice sidewall profile of a heavy truck tire, but lack any tread detail. They measure just a touch smaller than the wheels and tires of a Code 3 Freightliner pumper, the truck I chose to match scales with. The wheels and tires are metal axle pressed in to the plastic wheels, much the same as any other die cast. The great thing about the front is that its mounted in a tunnel and you could lift the truck to a four wheel drive just by moving the tunnel in its mounts. The Chassis is very basic and lacks any engine or drive train detail, and is painted flat black. Access to the battery compartment is on the chassis as well. This truck holds three watch style batteries to make the light on the roof blink.

Moving on to the body. It is a basic fire engine body, much like you would have found from The John Bean or Howe Fire Apparatus or any one of a dozen different small apparatus builders of the early sixties. It is a basic body with large fenders covering the rear wheels. The hose bed is loaded with a flat load of large hose, that appears to be sitting on a load of smaller diameter hose. Its not bad looking, and is semi weathered. There are two lengths of hard suction on the driver side that are nicely detailed, and are mounted to trays with retainers simulated with red paint. A feature often left out by other manufacturers. Below the suction hose is a nicely detailed fire extinguisher mounted to the large diamond plate running boards. Above the suction hose is a single brown colored ladder, perhaps the size of a roof ladder. On the passenger side are three ladders mounted together and painted brown as well. Perhaps these simulate a 24 foot extension ladder and a 14 foot roof ladder mounted together as is traditional. Not much ladder detail, but still a great effort to capture that fire engine look. There is one painted and detailed axe on the passenger side, that appears to be too large for this piece. On the rear of the body is one license plate with 2006 on it. The rear grab rails and hand hold bar are a one piece metal assembly. There are two tail lights, molded in red for the rear. There is no other rear warning equipment. In the bed are two hose reels, with the eyelet for the hanging hook placed between them. They are older style open hose reels, with minimal detail but represent a full load of red booster line. There are gold accent stripes on the rear fenders and on the rear body sides, and there is even a diamond plate graphic on the top of each rear fender.

Moving to the cab and its detail. The manufacturer has captured the look of the 1961 GMC, even if its not correct. This one just looks right. The cab is one piece metal with crisp clear plastic windows. The interior has a dash, steering wheel and seats in silver. The seats have a nice pattern to them. The roof has a very nice and proportioned rotating red light, and the way out of scale blinking light/siren combination. The light was mounted through a large hole, so it will be a chore to cover up for those that choose to kit bash this one. Door handles are painted silver, as is the gas cap on the driver side. The front fenders and door and hood also sport that nice gold accent pin striping. The grille is well detailed with the headlights replicated, and the turn signals mounted in to the hood as per the prototype. The front mount pump is simple, but well detailed. It features painted discharge caps and outlets, and has some great detail on the pump housing as well. There are two lines that disappear in to the grille, which is a very nice feature. The valves for the two top discharges are simulated with paint. The pump is mounted to a large diamond plate deck and the chrome front bumper is mounted to the deck. The front features a 1961 license plate. The chassis is held in with two screws, which will make getting to the interior easy if you choose to kit bash this truck.

This is a great truck. Its not 1/64 scale. It is a bit large for that scale, and too small for 1/50th scale. However, this truck will look good with a number of bodies behind it or the body would look good with a different cab in front of it. I don’t know the claimed scale, but in this case, its not a collectible fire truck but a Christmas ornament. I liked it so much I bought a box of them, and go and get some more.

One note:  When you install the batteries and push the button in the hose bed, you will find a rather nice surprise. The roof light and the roof mounted siren light up in red with a pulsating sort of blinking pattern, and all four headlights light up in yellow LED's. It is very well done. The lights stay on for about 20 seconds then turn themselves off.

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